Thursday, October 1, 2015

Biblical Ruminations

I have a few things to share with you today—things that I have pondered on for some time as a Christian. Over the course of many years of study, I have come across many things in the bible which I lacked the capacity to explain or rationalize away. Furthermore, the explanations given by informed or expert opinion have not really pacified my mind on some of these issues. I wish to point out, from the initial blast of the gun, that I do not usually have the inclination to discuss matters of religion and faith. I allow everybody the right to his or her beliefs. The reason why I am not so hung up about religion is that I find that in many cases, a lot of people are encouraged to suspend reason to embrace things which may have little or no verifiable empirical evidence. This is what religion calls faith. 

Therefore, when dealing with these issues, there is an unspoken premise that one does not necessarily need to have ALL or most of these thorny religious texts make unassailable intellectual sense before one accepts these biblical quotes or doctrines. One either chooses just to accept them on  faith or one doesn’t since ostensibly, there should be no compulsion in religion. However, there are many other issues in the known beliefs or practices of different faiths which are legitimately open to rational/informed inquiry; questions for which the proffered answers can either radically improve one's understanding of the text and thus enrich one's appreciation of the faith OR else create an enduring intellectual roadblock for a particular individual concerning the faith in question.

My main purpose with this piece is to train some light on those recondite tidbits I have noticed about the bible. I am openly going to state them so that if any one has an explanation for me, I will benefit from his or her insight. Remember, this is not an attempt to discredit, disprove or smear the bible. It is rather a visceral reaction born out of the fact that since human beings are imperfect creatures, perfection therefore cannot be expected from them. While the bible, as maintained by Christians, is essentially a compilation of divine inspiration by mortal penmanship, one cannot but concede to the fact that over the span of centuries (and through no specific intent) translations/transliterations, interpretations, meanings, context or even phraseology might have changed. While these changes may not considerably alter the overall message or direction of the bible, these abstruse breaks in logic, narrative or diction are pertinent fodder for deeper study; thus they deserve our keenest attention.

1) In the bible, Genesis chapter one (reputedly written by Moses), gives the account of how God created the world. It starts by informing the reader that there was nothing previously in existence. Reading in verse 28, the King James Version (KJV) of the bible states and I quote: 

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” 

The word "replenish" is not found in many of the other versions of the bible. Why does the KJV have this word “replenish”? Unless the meaning of the word “replenish” means something different from what it was in the 17 century, it seems rather odd here. Why? To replenish is to refill, restore, refresh, renew, restock or replace. In that sense, one would ask what previous creation the account in Genesis chapter One was meant to replenish. Compare this to Gen 9:1 where the word “replenish” makes perfect sense.

2) Were there other people that existed contemporaneously with Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel? It seems the bible suggests that these four constituted the first family. So, it is perplexing when we read in Gen 4—after Cain killed Abel his brother and was then banished—that Cain went to the land of Nod and dwelt there and later sired children with his wife. He must have chosen a wife from Nod which seriously questions the premise that they were the first humans. In the next chapter, we discover that Adam lived up to 930 years and had numerous sons and daughters, but there was no suggestion that there was a sister whom Cain married, neither any insinuation that there were any civilizations existing apart from the colony of humans descending from Seth. Who inhabited Nod then? After all, the Tower of Babel scenario comes very much later in Gen 11 by which time hundreds of years had passed.

3) How many tribes of Israel were there? 12, you’d answer readily. But have you ever heard of the tribe of Joseph? Ok, you have not. That’s understandable. The bible recognizes the two sons of Joseph as tribes in lieu of their father—so that means that there is a tribe of Manasseh and a tribe of Ephraim. That will make 13 tribes of Israel when you add Joseph’s 11 brothers. Read Joshua 14:4 to confirm this. Strange isn’t it? Ok, if you decide to consider Manasses/Manasseh and Ephraim as half-tribes (so that you can retain the number 12), then what can you say about Revelations 7:5-8?

4) What does the bible mean in Genesis 6:1,2 &4? Who were the “Sons of God” as distinct from “Daughters of Men”? If the “daughters of men” were mortal, human females then who were the “sons of God”? Were they fallen angels as some seem to believe? Surely they couldn't have been for spirits cannot physically copulate with fleshly agents. Or were they spirits who assumed human bodies and then were drawn by the beauty of these women? That will be stretching the limits of logic if you ask me. It sounds like an apology for fiction. If the term “sons of God” was a hyperbolic expression for describing righteous humans, is this also the prevailing wisdom when one reads Job 1: 6 or were spiritual/celestial entities referenced there?

5) Have you ever read the book called the Songs of Solomon? Should this love poem be part of the Bible? Some have posited that it is symbolic of Christ’s love for his Church, but have you actually gone through the language employed in this book? Solomon was never a prophet so you couldn’t compare his writings to the prophetic writings of the Old Testament times regarding Christ. The language of the book is not cryptic—it is sufficiently clear that this was an account of another one of Solomon’s amorous escapades. After all, he had 300 wives and 700 girlfriends (concubines). Seriously, how apt is this comparison to Christ and the Church his true bride?

6) Have you noticed that the word “Trinity” and “Rapture” never appear anywhere in the bible? The word “Rapture” for instance was certainly very much in existence during the 17th century when the KJV was written. Its dictionary meaning suggests that such a word could very well have been used by bible translators for any of the myriad occasions where ecstasy or lofty emotions were involved. Reading the epistles of Paul, you will find lots of rich, flamboyant language that befits a lawyer. Therefore, I find it absolutely amazing that the word “Rapture” was never used in the bible whether as part of routine speech or as a doctrine. That does not mean that the doctrine commonly regarded as Rapture is not found there. It is very instructive to note that the word was coined. Remember the King James bible for instance boasts such words as “innumerable”, “manifestation”, “inexcusable”, “recompense”, “forbearance”, “immortality”, “justification”, “transgression”, “condemnation”, “principality” and “dissimulation”. Also, the entire teaching on Trinity has continued to generate debate chiefly because human logic cannot effectively compute 1+1+1 to be equal to 1. You simply have to take this by “faith”.

7) Have you ever wondered how contradictory it must be for one to be taught that flesh and blood (physical or tangible agents) shall never enter heaven—a spiritual dimension, yet one reads that Enoch and Elijah never died, but were somehow taken to heaven? Assuming you declare that Elijah’s physical body was burnt off in the chariot of fire, what natural element destroyed Enoch’s corporeal constitution when he was mysteriously translated into heaven? Is it uncharitable to suggest that he was snatched out of sight by God, killed (or else stripped of his earthly tabernacle) and his spirit/soul taken to heaven? Do you feel concerned that his life might have been cut short intentionally against his own will? Remember he lived for only 365 in an era when men had average life-spans that was well over 800 years. Read Genesis chapter 5.

Permit me to add that some people however choose to regard these subtle issues as “sealed mysteries” which would be revealed or explained to steadfast Christians in the afterlife. There are many other questions, but by blog standards, this piece is lengthy already. I think when I am persuaded to continue, further commentary will come as sequels to this piece. As always I am open to all discussions, questions or suggestions on these issues. Thanks and have fun!


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  1. I've often wondered where the other people came from in Genesis. I haven't gotten an answer that put my questions to rest. Thanks for writing this. I'm glad I'm not the only one with these questions.

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  3. Same here Teria. This was a great read. Thanks for this Godfather

  4. You could almost forgive someone for thinking that the Bible is written in a way which almost invites us to misinterpret it. However, like you alluded to in your writing, the insinuation that one must "just have faith"(even though the difficulty passages might be intricate to decipher) is often times not suffix enough to answer the questions we wish God, himself can directly answer. I have however learnt over the years that the "inspired" writers of the bible often allude to current ideas in order to correct them, which in turn enables us to better relate to many "difficult" Bible verses.

    I often times struggle with the notion that the Bible might evidently be easier and in the ultimate sense "better" understood by an unsophisticated individual of the poorer world, than it is by experts, rationalist and realist. In my opinion, the bible is for the poor and oppressed- literally or spiritually. For them, the agony is not to understand; it is to apply. For many like me who often time struggle to academically understand, there seems to the agony of applying the most basic elements of Christianity. It appears to me that the chronic lack of praxis in so many Bible readers is somehow related to their intellectual quandaries of understanding.